A number of alp cheese award ceremonies take place every year. Whether they are participating in local award ceremonies or competing in national competitions, it is a big deal for the producers of alp cheeses to present the products that they have put their heart and soul into to a jury and perhaps even to win a prize for their efforts.
Annual prize for Swiss and Liechtenstein alp cheese production. The cheeses submitted are evaluated and rated by an expert jury. The prize-giving ceremony takes place in October. The event includes music and a lecture on a specific topic. Prizes are awarded for the best alp cheeses in a number of categories: semi-hard cheese, hard cheese, Hobelkäse (planed cheese), sheep’s and goat’s cheese as well as Mutschli (a traditional, semi-hard cheese).
The Schweizer Alpkäse umbrella brand supports this important recognition of quality products both financially and in terms of publicity.
The Berner Alpkäsemeisterschaft takes place on the Swiss Day of Repentance on the third Sunday of September each year. This is an event that has established itself over the years and enjoys great popularity. The alp cheese producers submit around 200 Berner Alpkäse AOP, Berner Hobelkäse AOP and Mutschli to be rated. They are judged according to specified criteria. All of the cheeses presented can be tasted by the visitors.
The Graubünden Cantonal Alp Cheese Award Ceremony has a decades-long tradition. Formerly it took place every two years, whereby two experts visited the alp and assessed the whole production. Today the Alp Cheese Awards Ceremony is held in the central location of the Plantahof in Landquart between mid and end September. The event promotes the quality of alp cheese and rapidly identifies any defective developments. Alp dairymen are given an incentive for the following season to make this unique product, and the media get an insight into everything relating to alp cheese.
The cheeses are evaluated by three jury groups. Each group consists of an alp dairyman or an ‘Alpmeister‘, a consultant and a consumer expert. The evaluation pattern comprises the following elements: outer appearance and suitability for storage, dough, holes and, of course, the taste and aroma. Defects are listed in a report and penalised by a points deduction. However the evaluation at the alp cheese awards always represents a snapshot. Naturally there are different perceptions of quality. But certain defects, such as saltiness, bitterness or acidity, are noticed by most consumers.
Although the cheeses are produced according to a similar recipe, there are significant variations. This is due, among other things, to differences in pasture fodder, milk storage and cellar conditions.
Hundreds of visitors acted as experts after the alp season and rated the many alp cheeses.
The alp farmers in Uri celebrate a very special type of thanksgiving festival each November: in Seedorf, they award prizes for the various alp cheeses that they have produced over the summer in the alps. Increasing numbers of visitors make the journey to the Urner Alpkäsemarkt, which has become an unmissable event in the canton of Uri.